Twenty Questions – Are You Up For It?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Hi and welcome to another fasab quiz day.

If you know about history, geography, politics, technology, music, movies, cars and a lot of other stuff then you should do okay.

And as always, if you get stuck , you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz 10

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Q.  1:  Who or what is a ‘FLOTUS’?

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Q.  2:  Most of you will have heard of the company called ‘3M’ but what do the three ‘M’s stand for?

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Q.  3:  Everyone has heard about the Titanic and probably seen at least one of the movies depicting its fateful inaugural voyage, but to which shipping line did the Titanic belong?

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Q.  4:  What waterway did Britain buy a share of in 1875?

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Q.  5:  In 1975 King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was assassinated by which male member of his family?

            a) son            b) grandson            c) nephew           d) father

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Q.  6:  What are the terms ‘Hi-Fi’ and ‘Wi-Fi’ abbreviations of? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q.  7:  In 1935, British engineer Robert Watson-Watt was working on a ‘death ray’ that would destroy enemy aircraft using radio waves. What did he invent instead?

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Q.  8:  General Leopoldo Galtieri was president of which South American country in 1981 and 1982?

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Q.  9:  When did the construction of the Berlin Wall begin and in what year was it demolished? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q. 10:  What makes of car were featured in the following movies? (A point for each correct answer, and a bonus point if you get them all correct.)

            a)  Herbie, The Love Bug                                  b)  Back To The Future

            c)  Smokey And The Bandit                              d)  Bullitt

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Q. 11:  In which year did South Africa have its first all-race elections?

            a) 1990            b) 1992            c) 1994            d) 1996

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Q. 12:  One of the best television mini-series ever made was the western ‘Lonesome Dove’, but what were the names of the two lead characters and who were the actors who played them? (A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if you get all four names correct.)

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Q. 13:  Held by Cuban athlete Javier Sotomayor, what is the current Men’s High Jump World Record?

            a)  2.37 m             b)  2.39 m            c)  2.41 m            d)  2.45 m            e)  2.47 m

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Q. 14:  ‘Operation Barbarossa’ was the codename used by the Germans for their plans to invade which country in 1941?

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Q. 15:  What is considered to be the hottest desert in North America?  (A bonus point if you know in which State it is located.)

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Q. 16:  Who was ‘Mork’ and who was ‘Mindy’ in the hit TV sitcom ‘Mork & Mindy’ originally broadcast from 1978 until 1982 on ABC? (A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if you can name both correctly.)

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Q. 17:  From which country did Norway secure its independence in 1905?

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Q. 18:  Approximately how many rifles did American factories produce during World War II?

           a)  1 million        b)  3 million        c)  5 million        d)  7 million       e)  9 million

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Q. 19:  It is the name of a hybrid between a mandarin and a sweet orange and Winston Churchill’s wife, what is it?

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Q. 20:  Who was ‘Talking To The Moon’ in 2011?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  Who or what is a ‘FLOTUS’?

A.  1:  FLOTUS is the First Lady Of The United States, or currently Mrs Obama.

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Q.  2:  Most of you will have heard of the company called ‘3M’ but what do the three ‘M’s stand for?

A.  2:  ‘3M’ is an abbreviation of ‘Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing’.

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Q.  3:  Everyone has heard about the Titanic and probably seen at least one of the movies depicting its fateful inaugural voyage, but to which shipping line did the Titanic belong?

A.  3:  The name is mentioned in the movies, it is the White Star Line.

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Q.  4:  What waterway did Britain buy a share of in 1875?

A.  4:  The Suez Canal.

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Q.  5:  In 1975 King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was assassinated by which male member of his family?

            a) son            b) grandson            c) nephew           d) father

A.  5:  Answer c) his nephew.

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Q.  6:  What are the terms ‘Hi-Fi’ and ‘Wi-Fi’ abbreviations of? (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  6:  ‘Hi-Fi’ and ‘Wi-Fi’ are abbreviations of ‘High Fidelity’ and ‘Wireless Fidelity’.

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Q.  7:  In 1935, British engineer Robert Watson-Watt was working on a ‘death ray’ that would destroy enemy aircraft using radio waves. What did he invent instead?

A.  7:  Robert Watson-Watt’s ‘death ray’ evolved into RADAR, otherwise known as ‘radio detection and ranging’.

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Q.  8:  General Leopoldo Galtieri was president of which South American country in 1981 and 1982?

A.  8:  Argentina.

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Q.  9:  When did the construction of the Berlin Wall begin and in what year was it demolished? (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  9:  Construction of the Berlin Wall began in 1961 (August 13th) and it was demolished in 1989.

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Q. 10:  What makes of car were featured in the following movies? (A point for each correct answer, and a bonus point if you get them all correct.)

            a)  Herbie, The Love Bug                                  b)  Back To The Future

            c)  Smokey And The Bandit                              d)  Bullitt

A. 10:  a) Herbie, The Love Bug featured a Volkswagen Beetle    

            b) Back To The Future featured a DeLorean DMC-12

            c)  Smokey And The Bandit featured a  Pontiac Trans Am

            d)  Bullitt featured a Ford Mustang GT fastback

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Q. 11:  In which year did South Africa have its first all-race elections?

            a) 1990            b) 1992            c) 1994            d) 1996

A. 11:  The correct answer is c) 1994.

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Q. 12:  One of the best television mini-series ever made was the western ‘Lonesome Dove’, but what were the names of the two lead characters and who were the actors who played them? (A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if you get all four names correct.)

A. 12:  The two lead characters in the Lonesome Dove TV miniseries were ‘Captain Augustus “Gus” McCrae’, played by Robert Duvall, and ‘Captain Woodrow F. Call’, played by Tommy Lee Jones.

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Q. 13:  Held by Cuban athlete Javier Sotomayor, what is the current Men’s High Jump World Record?

            a)  2.37 m             b)  2.39 m            c)  2.41 m            d)  2.45 m            e)  2.47 m

A. 13:  The correct answer is d) 2.45 m (8 ft 1/2 in), achieved in Salamanca, Spain on July 27th 1993.

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Q. 14:  ‘Operation Barbarossa’ was the codename used by the Germans for their plans to invade which country in 1941?

A. 14:  It was the codename for their plans to invade Russia.

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Q. 15:  What is considered to be the hottest desert in North America?  (A bonus point if you know in which State it is located.)

A. 15:  The Mojave Desert, located primarily in southeastern California is considered to be the hottest desert in North America.

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Q. 16:  Who was ‘Mork’ and who was ‘Mindy’ in the hit TV sitcom ‘Mork & Mindy’ originally broadcast from 1978 until 1982 on ABC? (A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if you can name both correctly.)

A. 16:  The series starred Robin Williams as Mork and Pam Dawber as Mindy McConnell.

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Q. 17:  From which country did Norway secure its independence in 1905?

A. 17:  Sweden.

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Q. 18:  Approximately how many rifles did American factories produce during World War II?

           a)  1 million        b)  3 million        c)  5 million        d)  7 million       e)  9 million

A. 18: The correct answer is d) approximately 7 million rifles were produced in American factories during WWII.

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Q. 19:  It is the name of a hybrid between a mandarin and a sweet orange and Winston Churchill’s wife, what is it?

A. 19:  Clementine.

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Q. 20:  Who was ‘Talking To The Moon’ in 2011?

A. 20:  Bruno Mars. Here he is……

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An Occurrence That Renewed My Love Of Reading

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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One of my blog friends, Kenton over at the Jittery Goat, wrote a post recently as part of the daily prompt series about the first book/story he read that gave him an interest in reading and writing. His choice was a good one, “To Kill A Mockingbird”.  

On a few occasions I have been asked the same thing and it is a very good question to put to anyone who is interested in either reading or writing or both.

When I was growing up the main influence as regards reading and writing was school. I’m sure that is the same for many of you. I was both fortunate and unfortunate here.

For a few years I had an excellent English teacher. Someone who was interested in the subject she taught, but someone who was equally interested in passing on her enthusiasm for reading and writing to her pupils. She was a great teacher and a great influence on her pupils. One could not but develop a taste for English literature, for exploring other writers and for writing too.

Now for the bad news.

As happens in schools, as you progress through the grades sometimes your teachers change. And unfortunately mine did.

I got lumbered with the most awful teacher there has probably ever been. Another woman, but this woman was one of those self-absorbed dullards who would probably have made any subject the most boring and tedious thing in the world.

She could take the most exciting story and just drain the life out of it. With poetry she did the very same, just killed it stone dead with her monotonous voice and her complete lack of feeling for the subject.

Watching the proverbial paint drying or concrete setting was real exciting stuff compared to this woman’s classes!

The result?

Sadly, for a few years she turned me, and I would guess almost all her pupils completely off both reading and writing. I will never forgive her for that.

However time passed and although I’m not sure how exactly it happened, I got the urge to start to read again. Perhaps to ease myself back into it I decided to start with some short stories rather than a long book or novel.

And what a great choice that turned out to be.

The first story I read in my new life as a reader once again was called “An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge”. It was a tale set during the American Civil War and was written by Ambrose Bierce, who himself was a veteran of that war, and a gentleman of whom you will hear a lot more in future fasab posts.   

And so I have been reading and writing ever since, mostly for my own amusement and occasionally, as in this blog, also for the amusement of others.

I’d be interested to find out what you make of this story so I have reproduced it below. If you are unfamiliar with it, or want to refresh you memory if you have read it before, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

And when you are finished let me know what you make of it.

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AN OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE

by

Ambrose Bierce 

An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

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A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the ties supporting the rails of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners–two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain.

A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as “support,” that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest–a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it.

Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground–a gentle slope topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loopholed for rifles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass cannon commanding the bridge. Midway up the slope between the bridge and fort were the spectators–a single company of infantry in line, at “parade rest,” the butts of their rifles on the ground, the barrels inclining slightly backward against the right shoulder, the hands crossed upon the stock.

A lieutenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the center of the bridge, not a man moved. The company faced the bridge, staring stonily, motionless. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.

The man who was engaged in being hanged was apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was a civilian, if one might judge from his habit, which was that of a planter. His features were good—a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long, dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well fitting frock coat. He wore a moustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray, and had a kindly expression which one would hardly have expected in one whose neck was in the hemp. Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.

The preparations being complete, the two private soldiers stepped aside and each drew away the plank upon which he had been standing. The sergeant turned to the captain, saluted and placed himself immediately behind that officer, who in turn moved apart one pace.

These movements left the condemned man and the sergeant standing on the two ends of the same plank, which spanned three of the cross-ties of the bridge. The end upon which the civilian stood almost, but not quite, reached a fourth. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain; it was now held by that of the sergeant. At a signal from the former the latter would step aside, the plank would tilt and the condemned man go down between two ties. The arrangement commended itself to his judgement as simple and effective. His face had not been covered nor his eyes bandaged. He looked a moment at his “unsteadfast footing,” then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move! What a sluggish stream!

He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift–all had distracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith’s hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality.

He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by– it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each new stroke with impatience and–he knew not why–apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer; the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the trust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch.

He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. “If I could free my hands,” he thought, “I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader’s farthest advance.”

As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man’s brain rather than evolved from it the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside.

II

Peyton Farquhar was a well to do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family. Being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician, he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. Circumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with that gallant army which had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglorious restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction. That opportunity, he felt, would come, as it comes to all in wartime.

Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in the aid of the South, no adventure to perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who in good faith and without too much qualification assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war.

One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands. While she was fetching the water her husband approached the dusty horseman and inquired eagerly for news from the front.

“The Yanks are repairing the railroads,” said the man, “and are getting ready for another advance. They have reached the Owl Creek bridge, put it in order and built a stockade on the north bank. The commandant has issued an order, which is posted everywhere, declaring that any civilian caught interfering with the railroad, its bridges, tunnels, or trains will be summarily hanged. I saw the order.” 

“How far is it to the Owl Creek bridge?” Farquhar asked.

“About thirty miles.” 

“Is there no force on this side of the creek?” 

“Only a picket post half a mile out, on the railroad, and a single sentinel at this end of the bridge.” 

“Suppose a man–a civilian and student of hanging–should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel,” said Farquhar, smiling, “what could he accomplish?” 

The soldier reflected. “I was there a month ago,” he replied. “I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tinder.” 

The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.

III 

As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened–ages later, it seemed to him–by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fiber of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity.

They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fullness — of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. Then all at once, with terrible suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud splash; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark. The power of thought was restored; he knew that the rope had broken and he had fallen into the stream. There was no additional strangulation; the noose about his neck was already suffocating him and kept the water from his lungs. To die of hanging at the bottom of a river! — the idea seemed to him ludicrous. He opened his eyes in the darkness and saw above him a gleam of light, but how distant, how inaccessible!

He was still sinking, for the light became fainter and fainter until it was a mere glimmer. Then it began to grow and brighten, and he knew that he was rising toward the surface — knew it with reluctance, for he was now very comfortable. “To be hanged and drowned,” he thought, “that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be shot. No; I will not be shot; that is not fair.” 

He was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist apprised him that he was trying to free his hands. He gave the struggle his attention, as an idler might observe the feat of a juggler, without interest in the outcome. What splendid effort! — what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeavor!

Bravo! The cord fell away; his arms parted and floated upward, the hands dimly seen on each side in the growing light. He watched them with a new interest as first one and then the other pounced upon the noose at his neck. They tore it away and thrust it fiercely aside, its undulations resembling those of a water snake. “Put it back, put it back!” He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the undoing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experienced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire, his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish! But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command. They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek!

He was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally keen and alert. Something in the awful disturbance of his organic system had so exalted and refined them that they made record of things never before perceived. He felt the ripples upon his face and heard their separate sounds as they struck.

He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf–he saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant bodied flies, the gray spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass.

The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon flies’ wings, the strokes of the water spiders’ legs, like oars which had lifted their boat — all these made audible music. A fish slid along beneath his eyes and he heard the rush of its body parting the water.

He had come to the surface facing down the stream; in a moment the visible world seemed to wheel slowly round, himself the pivotal point, and he saw the bridge, the fort, the soldiers upon the bridge, the captain, the sergeant, the two privates, his executioners. They were in silhouette against the blue sky. They shouted and gesticulated, pointing at him. The captain had drawn his pistol, but did not fire; the others were unarmed. Their movements were grotesque and horrible, their forms gigantic.

Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray. He heard a second report, and saw one of the sentinels with his rifle at his shoulder, a light cloud of blue smoke rising from the muzzle. The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a gray eye and remembered having read that gray eyes were keenest, and that all famous marksmen had them. Nevertheless, this one had missed.

A counter-swirl had caught Farquhar and turned him half round; he was again looking at the forest on the bank opposite the fort. The sound of a clear, high voice in a monotonous singsong now rang out behind him and came across the water with a distinctness that pierced and subdued all other sounds, even the beating of the ripples in his ears.

Although no soldier, he had frequented camps enough to know the dread significance of that deliberate, drawling, aspirated chant; the lieutenant on shore was taking a part in the morning’s work. How coldly and pitilessly — with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforcing tranquility in the men — with what accurately measured interval fell those cruel words:

“Company! . . . Attention! . . . Shoulder arms! . . . Ready!. . . Aim! . . . Fire!” 

Farquhar dived — dived as deeply as he could. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dull thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, met shining bits of metal, singularly flattened, oscillating slowly downward. Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away, continuing their descent. One lodged between his collar and neck; it was uncomfortably warm and he snatched it out.

As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther downstream — nearer to safety. The soldiers had almost finished reloading; the metal ramrods flashed all at once in the sunshine as they were drawn from the barrels, turned in the air, and thrust into their sockets. The two sentinels fired again, independently and ineffectually.

The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigorously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning:

“The officer,” he reasoned, “will not make that martinet’s error a second time. It is as easy to dodge a volley as a single shot. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. God help me, I cannot dodge them all!” 

An appalling splash within two yards of him was followed by a loud, rushing sound, DIMINUENDO, which seemed to travel back through the air to the fort and died in an explosion which stirred the very river to its deeps! A rising sheet of water curved over him, fell down upon him, blinded him, strangled him! The cannon had taken an hand in the game. As he shook his head free from the commotion of the smitten water he heard the deflected shot humming through the air ahead, and in an instant it was cracking and smashing the branches in the forest beyond.

“They will not do that again,” he thought; “the next time they will use a charge of grape. I must keep my eye upon the gun; the smoke will apprise me–the report arrives too late; it lags behind the missile. That is a good gun.” 

Suddenly he felt himself whirled round and round — spinning like a top. The water, the banks, the forests, the now distant bridge, fort and men, all were commingled and blurred. Objects were represented by their colors only; circular horizontal streaks of color — that was all he saw. He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance and gyration that made him giddy and sick. In few moments he was flung upon the gravel at the foot of the left bank of the stream — the southern bank — and behind a projecting point which concealed him from his enemies. The sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him, and he wept with delight. He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of Aeolian harps. He had not wish to perfect his escape — he was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken.

A whiz and a rattle of grapeshot among the branches high above his head roused him from his dream. The baffled cannoneer had fired him a random farewell. He sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the forest.

All that day he traveled, laying his course by the rounding sun. The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even a woodman’s road. He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. There was something uncanny in the revelation.

By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famished. The thought of his wife and children urged him on. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction. It was as wide and straight as a city street, yet it seemed untraveled. No fields bordered it, no dwelling anywhere. Not so much as the barking of a dog suggested human habitation. The black bodies of the trees formed a straight wall on both sides, terminating on the horizon in a point, like a diagram in a lesson in perspective. Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great golden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which — once, twice, and again–he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue.

His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them.

His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue — he could no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet!

Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene — perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forwards with extended arms. As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon — then all is darkness and silence!

Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

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If you prefer to listen while you do something else, here is an audio version of the story:

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An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, narrated by Robert Englund, part one of four

   

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An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, narrated by Robert Englund, part two of four  

   

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An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, narrated by Robert Englund, part three of four  

   

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An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, narrated by Robert Englund, part four of four  

 

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Significant Number Factoid Friday – Today Number Forty-Four 44

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Okay, this week’s significant number was either going to be 44 or 45, but, rightly or wrongly, the American people voted for Barack Obama and so the number is 44  –  hard luck Mitt.

So here we go, and just like President Obama we’re not sure exactly where.

Enjoy.

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44 Forty-four

 44

 

 

In politics

  • In the U.S. presidential election of 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt won reelection over Republican challenger Thomas E. Dewey, becoming the only U.S. president elected to a fourth term.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

  • A few days ago Barack Obama was elected to his second term as the 44th US President.
Barack Obama 44th President of the United States of America
Barack Obama 44th President of the United States of America

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In mathematics

  • 44 is a tribonacci number, a happy number, an octahedral number and a palindromic number.

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In science

  • 44 is the atomic number of ruthenium

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In space

  • STS-44 was the 44th Shuttle mission. It was cut short after one of its three navigational units failed.

 sts-44-patch

 

  • Messier object M44, also known as the Beehive Cluster, is a magnitude 4.0 open cluster in the constellation Cancer,
Messier object M44
Messier object M44

  

  • 44 is the Saros number of the solar eclipse series which began on April 30, 1448 BC and ended on June 7, 168 BC . The duration of Saros series 44 was 1280.1 years, and it contained 72 solar eclipses.
  • The Saros number of the lunar eclipse series which began on October 1, 1363 BC and ended on March 27, 153 . The duration of Saros series 44 was 1514.5 years, and it contained 85 lunar eclipses.

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In sport

  • 44 is the retired number for former baseball players Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey and Reggie Jackson; the number is sometimes considered to be a “hitter’s number”.

Hank Aaron

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  • In the NFL 44 was the number of Floyd Little (Denver Broncos) and Pete Retzlaff (Philadelphia Eagles)
Floyd Little
Floyd Little

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  • In the NBA 44 was the number of Dan Issel, (Denver Nuggets); Jerry West (L.A. Lakers); Paul Westphal (Phoenix Suns); Sam Lacey (Sacramento Kings); and George Gervin (San Antonio Spurs).
Dan Issel
Dan Issel

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  • A number of football legends at Syracuse University also wore 44, most notably by Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, and Rob Konrad. Although the number was officially retired in 2005, the legend of 44 remains an important part of the identity of Syracuse University.

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In WWII

1944 was arguably the most interesting year of World War II. Incidents of note included:

 

  • The Fosse Ardeatine massacre in Rome when 335 Italians are killed, including 75 Jews and over 200 members of the Italian Resistance from various groups.

 

  • The real “Great Escape” (as opposed to the famous movie version) when 76 Royal Air Force prisoners escape by tunnel “Harry” from Stalag Luft III. Only three made it back to the UK, and of those recaptured, fifty were executed.

 

  • Exercise Tiger, or Operation Tiger, was the code name for one in a series of large-scale rehearsals for the D-Day invasion of Normandy, which took place on Slapton Sands or Slapton Beach in Devon.
  • The first practice assault took place on the morning of 27 April. H-hour was set for 7:30 am, and was to be preceded by a live firing exercise to acclimatize the troops to the sights, sounds and even smells of a naval bombardment. During the landing itself, live rounds were to be fired over the heads of the incoming troops by forces on land, for the same reason. This followed an order made by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, who felt that the men must be hardened by exposure to real battle conditions.
  • The British heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins was to shell the beach with live ammunition, from 6:30 to 7:00 am, giving the beachmasters half an hour to inspect the beach and declare it safe.
  • However, several of the landing ships for that morning were delayed, and the officer in charge decided to delay the bombardment until 8:30am. This message was received by HMS Hawkins, but not by a number of the landing craft, with the result that troops were landing on the beach at the same time as the bombardment was taking place. This unfortunate mix-up resulted in a “friendly fire” incident with 946 American servicemen losing their lives.
  • The incident was under the strictest secrecy at the time due to the impending invasion, and was only nominally reported afterward. As a result it has been a largely “forgotten” disaster of WWII.

Plaque commemorating those killed in Operation Tiger

 

  • On June 6 Operation Overlord, or the D-Day landings, took place, when 155,000 Allied troops shipped from England land on the beaches of Normandy in northern France.
  • It was the largest amphibious military operation in history and was the beginning of the liberation of France and the other countries in Europe invaded by Nazi Germany.
D-Day Landings
D-Day Landings

 

  • Also in 1944, on July 20 there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler led by Claus von Stauffenberg.
Führerhauptquartier, Stauffenberg, Hitler
Führerhauptquartier, Stauffenberg, Hitler

 

  • At the beginning of August 1944 the Warsaw Uprising began and lasted until October 2, when it was finally ended by Nazi troops.
Warsaw Uprising Symbol
Warsaw Uprising Symbol

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  • Also in August of that year, the Gestapo, acting on a tip off from a Dutch informer, sealed-off an area in an Amsterdam warehouse and captured Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family.
  • They were placed on the last transport train from Westerbork to Auschwitz, and on October 30, Anne Frank and sister Margot Frank are deported from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Anne Frank diary
Anne Frank diary

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In militaria

  • The .44 Remington Magnum or .44 Special are popular large-bore cartridge calibres. Originally designed for revolvers, a their introduction, they were quickly adopted for carbines and rifles as well.
44 calibre ammo
44 calibre ammo

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  • However many people mistakenly believe that the Smith & Wesson (S&W) .44 calibre revolver heavily featured in numerous Hollywood movies, particularly Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry is called the .44 Magnum (the most powerful handgun in the world), neither of which are true. The revolver used in those movies is actually the Smith & Wesson Model 29, a six-shot, double-action revolver chambered for the .44 Magnum cartridge. It comes in a variety of models with 3″, 4″, 5″, 6″, 6½”, 8″ and, later, 10″ barrel lengths.

Smith & Wesson Model 29

 

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  • StG 44
  • The StG 44 (Sturmgewehr 44) is an assault rifle developed in Nazi Germany during World War II that was the first of its kind to see major deployment and is considered by many historians to be the first modern assault rifle.
  • It is also known under the designations MP 43 and MP 44 (Maschinenpistole 43, Maschinenpistole 44 respectively).
Sturmgewehr StG44
Sturmgewehr StG44

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  • Pzf 44 
  • Panzerfaust 44 “Lanze” (or Pzf 44 in short) is an antitank weapon. Development of this weapon commenced circa 1960, with grenade and launcher developed by German company Dynamit-Nobel AG.
  • The Pzf 44 entered German service during mid-sixties and in several modifications served until mid-eighties, when it was replaced by moremodern Panzerfaust 3 (Pzf 3) weapon.
  • It is a .44 Magnum carbine with a synthetic stock and stainless steel fittings. In common with many Ruger carbines it uses a rotary magazine which holds 4 rounds and fits inside the stock under the breech.

 

Panzerfaust 44 "Lanze" Pzf 44
Panzerfaust 44 “Lanze” Pzf 44

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  • DL-44 
  • The BlasTech Industries DL-44 heavy blaster pistol was a powerful sidearm from the time of the Galactic Civil War (yes, a little bit of sci-fi talk here). The DL-44 is described as a powerful, highly modifiable and accurate blaster pistol.
BlasTech Industries DL-44 heavy blaster pistol - tech drawing
BlasTech Industries DL-44 heavy blaster pistol – tech drawing
  • However, in outward design it is uncannily like the (real) German “Broomhandle” Mauser C96 pistol, used by both its German creators and the Ottoman Empire during World War I, and wound up in the hands of such notable figures as T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) and Winston Churchill, and also saw service among various revolutionary movements throughout the world following the First World War.

 

"Broomhandle" Mauser C96
“Broomhandle” Mauser C96

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  • T-44
  • The T-44 was a medium tank first produced towards the end of the Second World War by the Soviet Union. It was the successor to the famous T-34. Fewer than two thousand T-44s were built, but the design became the basis for the T-54/55 series of main battle tanks, the most-produced tank of all time.
Soviet T44 tank
Soviet T44 tank

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  • TKX
  • The TKX is a relatively new Japanese tank with a 120mm gun, costing approximately $7 million and weighing in at 44 tons weight.

 

Japanese Army TKX 44 ton tank
Japanese Army TKX 44 ton tank

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  • A-44
  • Sometimes known as the ‘mystery tank’, the A-44 was developed as T-34 modernization program in 1941. 29-30 tonns, Hull front armour – up to 75 at 60 degrees, sides – 60mm, 76.2mm and 57mm cannons, 600hp enqine. Only paper project.
A-44 'mystery' tank
A-44 ‘mystery’ tank

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  • XB-44
  • One B-29A was handed over to Pratt & Whitney to be used as a testbed for the installation of the new Wasp Major 28-cylinder engines in the B-29. They came up with the XB-44 variant.

 

XB-44-1 variant of the B-29A
XB-44-1 variant of the B-29A

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  • X-44 MANTA
  • The Lockheed Martin X-44 MANTA (Multi-Axis No-Tail Aircraft) was a conceptual aircraft design that has been studied by NASA and the U.S. Air Force. It was intended to test the feasibility of full yaw, pitch and roll control without tailplanes (horizontal or vertical), attitude manipulation relying purely on 3D thrust vectoring. The aircraft design was derived from the F-22 Raptor and featured a stretched delta wing and no tail surfaces.
The Lockheed Martin X-44 MANTA (Multi-Axis No-Tail Aircraft)
The Lockheed Martin X-44 MANTA    (Multi-Axis No-Tail Aircraft)

 

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  • T-44A
  • The T-44A “Pegasus” aircraft is a twin-engine, pressurized, fixed-wing monoplane, manufactured by Beech Aircraft Corporation, Wichita, Kansas, whose mission is to train Navy and Marine Corps pilots.

 

The T-44A "Pegasus"
The T-44A “Pegasus”

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Other stuff

  • Cities on the 44th parallel include, Minneapolis,  Simferopol (Ukraine), Bordeaux  (France),  Belgrade and Šabac (Serbia), Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada), Bucharest (Romania), Pierre (South Dakota), Augusta (Maine), and Montpelier (Vermont).
  • Cities on the 44th line of longitude include, São Luís (Brazil), Sana’a (Yemen), Baghdad (Iraq), Nizhny Novgorod (Russia), Hargeisa (Somalia), Arbil (Iraqi Kurdistan), Yerevan (Armenia), and Tbilisi (Georgia).
  • 44 is the international direct dial code for phone calls to the United Kingdom;
  • Interstate 44 is the freeway that runs from Texas to Missouri;
  • U.S. Route 44, is the highway that runs from New York to Massachusetts;
  • In Pennsylvania Route 44(PA 44), is the long state highway in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
  • The name of a mysterious savior of Poland was prophesied by the Polish national poet Adam Mickiewicz in his masterpiece dramatic poem Dziady (Forefathers). In scene 5 of act 3, the priest Piotr announces a “reviver of the nation” who is to bring back the lost freedom of Poland, and describes him as: “Born from a foreign mother, his blood of ancient heroes, And his name will be forty and four.”
  • 44 is the name of a variant of the card game poker.
  • +44 is the name of a band that includes Blink-182 vocalist/bassist Mark Hoppus and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.
  • A blues song, Forty-Four, also known as “44 Blues”
  • Vicks Formula 44 is a cough suppressant
  • The 44 Cent Cure is the cost of treatment of intestinal worms that affect 400 million children in various arts of the world and leads to stunted physical and mental development in both boys and girls. They also cause nausea and diarrhea and in severe cases, they kill.
  • 44 is the largest number for which Wolfram Alpha offers a visual representation.
  • Wyoming was the 44th state to join The United States of America.
  • There are 44 candles in a box of Hanukkah candles.
  • An agent in the American Television series Get Smart goes under the title of 44, usually assigned to small, enclosed, unexpected spots, to meet Maxwell Smart, agent 86.
  • On January 15 1944 An earthquake hits San Juan, Argentina, killing an estimated 10,000 people in the worst natural disaster in Argentina’s history.
  • In 1944 meat rationing ends in Australia.
  • On March 4, 1944 in Ossining, New York, Louis Buchalter, the leader of 1930s crime syndicate Murder, Inc., was executed at Sing Sing, along with Emanuel Weiss, and Louis Capone.
  • In 1944 IBM dedicates the first program-controlled calculator, the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (known best as the Harvard Mark I).
  • On September 14, 1944 the ‘Great Atlantic Hurricane’ makes landfall in the New York City area.
  • And on October 20 an LNG explosion destroyed a square mile of Cleveland, Ohio.

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